What a Ridealong is and why you should do one

[full video at the bottom of this post]

What is a ridealong?  

The simple definition is that you - the newbie - tag along with a working adjuster in the field as they work their claims.

Now, why would you do this?  

If you've spent any time trying to get more information about this field, you may have heard about something called a "ridealong."  

You probably ALSO heard that you must do a ridealong because the IA firms want to see that you have some experience.  

I just want to clarify that right now:  you don't get experience doing a ridealong.  That's not what it's for.  It's also not really training.  

So what were they talking about then?  A ridealong where you actually do work is a mentorship and it's quite different than a ridealong. 

Alright, Matt..  what IS a ridealong??

A ridealong is basically a job shadow.   You're not writing estimates & you're not interacting with insureds.  

Now why do you do this? 

You do a ridealong so you can see a working adjuster in action and decide if this career is right for you.  Pretty simple. 

It's NOT to get hands-on training.  Again, It's not to get "experience" that you can take to an IA firm.  

So when you approach somebody to ask them if you can ridealong with them, you have to set very clear expectations with them right out of the gate as to what you want to get out of this and how to conduct it so that you get the most benefit AND you don't get in that adjuster's way while they're trying to earn a living.  

Okay??  Make sense?  

So now how do you do a ridealong?

  • First You have to find somebody willing to let you tag along on their next deployment:

    • Network on social media.  You can find people who may be open to letting you ridealong with them in groups like the IA Path Community as well as the AdjusterTV Private Facebook Group.  Or the Learn to Adjust Facebook Group.  Or the Claims Adjuster's Success Network on Facebook.  

      • AND, there are dozens of IA-centered groups on Facebook and LinkedIn - but I warn you to spend some time in the group before posting up that you're looking for a ridealong opportunity.  Get a feel for the kind of people in that group because you want to be sure that A. You don't get slammed by a bunch of salty know it alls and internet lawyers.  And B. That the person you ride along with knows what they're doing.  Not everybody does.

    • Talk to the person who got you interested in this job.  Tell them you're definitely interested and then ask if you can tag along on their next deployment.  If they don't want to, then ask them if they have a buddy who might be willing.

    • Reach out to IA firms and ask them if they know anybody who likes to take adjusters on ridealongs.  Don't be shy - if they say no they don't..  say thanks and hang up.

    • Be creative - this is where your networking can really pay off.

  • What are the expectations you need to have when you go on a ridealong..?

    • Be prepared to travel to any place in the country - this is a MAJOR part of what we do as cat IA's.  If you post up on social media that you're looking for somebody to ridealong with in the Nashville, TN area, you're going to get crickets.  You have to be willing to drive from Dallas to Seattle.  Because that's what we do and if you don't want to do that, then you know, maybe this isn't for you.

    • Be prepared to go on short notice - You also have to be ready to go when the work is there and not at your convenience.  This, again, is very much a big part of the cat IA lifestyle.  You can be planning a big birthday party next weekend for your wife - but if you -as an IA- get the call to go work the Tuesday before, you're gone.  You'll just have to move the party up or take her for a special dinner when you get home.  That is the lifestyle and again, if you want to do a ridealong on your own schedule when it's convenient for you, maybe this isn't for you.  U

      • And understand that you can't just go for a ridealong right at the moment you decide you want to. If it's not storm season and there wasn't a hurricane, all the working adjusters are taking time off.  You'll have to wait until there's work - usually between March and October.

    • Be prepared to pay for your own hotel, fuel, food, and travel expenses - You're going to do this at your own expense.  The adjuster - unless you're related to them - isn't going to let you sleep on their floor or in the other bed in their hotel room.  If you have to, save up $500 so you can pay for fuel and hotels while you're doing your ridealong.

      • IA's have to pay our own expenses and this will give you a little taste of having to spend money to make money.

    • Understand that a ride along will likely not carry much weight with IA firms - I've seen a lot of resumes with 4 ridealongs as all of their experience - but doing this will provide you with an important window into our world - which if you ask me is a lot more valuable as a first step into building this career RIGHT.

  • So HOW do you do a ridealong?

    • Do it for free - and buy the adjuster a nice dinner as a gesture of gratitude.  Do not, under any circumstances, ask to be paid to ridealong with an adjuster.  If you help them in some way, and they want to pay you something, that's on them.  This experience is to help you decide if you want to get into this career.  That's it.

    • However, I personally would offer to ASSIST a working adjuster by carrying and setting up their ladder and doing anything else they need extra hands for.  Printing things out, collating stuff.  Grabbing coffee or breakfast, picking up laundry, etc. It’ll take you a half an hour, but to a working adjuster, that’s HUGE.

      • Do not offer to write estimates for them because then they'll have take extra time to show you how they want it done - and that's not the purpose of the ridealong.  Even if you’re a Level 3 Xactimate wizard, you will still have to be brought up to speed on the carrier estimating guidelines and how this adjuster likes their files put together.

    • Keep it short - 2-4 days is probably more than enough to know if this is right for you.  In fact, you can probably do this over a long weekend and not miss much or any work from your regular day job that you haven't quit yet :)

    • Dress the part - khakis and a solid, non-pastel golf shirt and NO TENNIS SHOES.  Leather hiking shoes or boots are a great option that work well on roofs.  

      • I wouldn't normally suggest buying any gear before deciding if this is right for you, but picking up a pair of Cougar Paws might not be a bad idea - for safety's sake.

Question of the Day:

Are you an experienced adjuster who'd be willing to let a curious newbie tag along for a couple of days with you?  Give us a YES or NO in the comments below!

Mathew Allen

I teach new catastrophe adjusters how to get started in the business.  I also build my own websites and sites for friends (who sometimes pay me).  In addition, I film and produce personal adventure videos for hunting and fishing clients.